Sometimes is hard to show how to structure all the steps needed in a method so that it is easy and simple to understand. This poster, which you can download here (PDF), gives an overview of the process of conducting a remote usability testing project.
The process starts with the Research Question. It is important to step back and first think about what one wants to find out, before defining tasks for the study.
Once we know what we want to find out, we have to choose which research method to apply. There are many remote research methods that can be used, and you should be choosing the method based on what you want to find out.
There are synchronous methods, where the evaluator and participant are in different locations, but communicate during the research with one another. And there are asynchronous methods where the evaluator and participant are separated in time and space. This includes surveys, card sorting, web analytics, diary studies and remote ethnography. Webnographer falls into the category of asynchronous methods. It allows you to assess users in their natural environment (on their laptops, at work, at home, with friends), without moderator intervention.
One of the most important issues, that we have to deal with when using data from real people, is the Legal assessment of the data collection. For example, if you are testing in Europe it is important to follow the European Data Protection Directives, if you are testing with children you will have to think about how to get parental consent. Having said that the legal site is usually very easy. A quick check for each country on which your research focuses should do the trick. However, no matter how liberal the local data collection rules are, getting informed consent from people is best practice when carrying out any kind of research.
As soon as all that is sorted out we have to think on how we are going to get people to participate on the study. Depending on the type of study, the Participant Recruitment can be carried out from the client’s own site or an advert can be posted elsewhere targeting the profiles of users that we want to get to participate.
Getting the right people to participate is important. Don’t just get any one! You need to get the right people. You wouldn’t want to be testing a website aimed at youths with a bunch of pensioners in a care home. This is an extreme example, but highlights the importance of getting the recruitment right.
By now we have chosen the tool and the people, so we have to put down our Study Design so we can structure the way we want to ask and how we want to get the answers for our research question.
A good study design isn’t finished until is tested and nothing better than run a Pilot Test to get a sense how well is our study design getting the answers to our questions.
If everything is OK than we get a green light to go live with the research and start the Data Collection that will provide us with users answers and feedback. If you have chosen to carry out synchronous remote research, this is where the hard part begins, moderating the research with each participant. For any asynchronous study, this step only entails the monitoring of the data collection.
The data collected data is then structured for analysis, so that we can Analyse the user behavior for our study. Depending on the method you chose, the analysis will be carried out in different ways to provide Insight into your initial research question.
If you would like a copy of the poster showing the remote usability testing process, you can download your copy here (PDF). Or contact us with your address and we will send you the poster via mail.